25 February 2011
The Human Rights Council this morning opened a Special Session on “The situation of human rights in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”.
Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that Muammar Al-Qadhafi must stop the violence now. Libya was a member of the Human Rights Council and as such had pledged to respect human rights. It was also the State party to various international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It had the obligation to protect and implement rights and freedoms as enshrined in international human rights treaties. Ms. Pillay recalled that under international law, any official at any level ordering or carrying out atrocities and attacks could be held criminally accountable and widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population could amount to crimes against humanity.
The Council was also addressed by Gomez del Prado, Chair of the Working Group on the use of Mercenaries, on behalf of all Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the Human Rights Council. Mr. Del Prado said that the Special Procedures had stated that actions taken by the Libyan authorities were illegitimate and unlawful under international law, as the excessive use of force had never been an option and could not be justified in dealing with peaceful demonstrations. The authorities in Libya had committed gross and serious violations of human rights, including arbitrary deprivation of life, torture and enforced disappearances, and had violated their obligations under international human rights treaties to which Libya was a party. The use of foreign armed individuals who may have been involved in the killings was unacceptable.
Member States of the Council and Observer States then took the floor. Most expressed their deep concerns about the human rights situation in Libya, and the reports of indiscriminate and disproportionate violence perpetrated against peaceful protestors. As a Member of the Human Rights Council, Libya should uphold the highest human rights standards, but what the world had seen was a gross violation of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country. Numerous delegations also called on Libyan authorities to allow humanitarian aid and workers immediate access to the country to help treat those people who were injured or displaced. Speakers also expressed concern that the international media were being denied access to the country, making news reports fragmented and unclear. The State was also called on to lift blocks on internet and mobile phone networks to allow free communication in the country.
Numerous speakers called on the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s membership on the Human Rights Council, but some delegations cautioned that this should not be a precedent set by the Council and that further discussions were needed. Concern for foreign nationals in Libya was also expressed by numerous delegations, as there were reports that foreigners were being blamed for the instability in the country and thus subject to attack. Speakers further called for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable.
Speaking this morning were the representatives of Hungary on behalf of the European Union, Iraq on behalf of the Arab Group, Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Qatar, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, the Maldives, Norway, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Japan, Malaysia, Angola, Belgium, Jordan, Cuba, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, China, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Senegal, and Thailand.
The following observer delegations also took the floor: Nicaragua, Ireland, the Netherlands, Algeria, Germany, Italy, Austria, Kuwait, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Honduras, Australia, Turkey and Peru.
The Council will meet this afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue with the Special Session and to consider the proposed draft resolution.
SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, President of the Human Rights Council, said the request for this special session had been received on Wednesday, 23 February at 9:40 a.m. and it was supported by 23 Members of the Council as well as numerous observer States. In accordance with Council Resolution 5/1 the secretariat immediately transmitted the request to various UN bodies and non-governmental organizations. The list of speakers would close in 30 minutes and Member States would have three minutes to speak while observer States would have two minutes to speak.
NAVI PILLAY, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the international community had repeatedly urged Muammar Al-Qadhafi to desist from violence. Despite international condemnation and appeals for restraint, the Libyan leader chose to foment conflict. He called on his supporters to get out of their homes, fill the streets against protesters and “attack them in their lairs” as he said. Although reports were still patchy and hard to verify, one thing was painfully clear: in brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya on peaceful demonstrations was escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors. Tanks, helicopters and military aircraft had reportedly been used indiscriminately to attack protestors. According to some sources, thousands may have been killed or injured. Ms. Pillay reiterated that the State had an obligation to protect the rights to life, liberty and security of people under its jurisdiction. The protection of civilians should always be the paramount consideration in maintaining order and the rule of law.
Ms. Pillay went on to say that the Libyan leader must stop the violence now. Libya was a member of the Human Rights Council and as such had pledged to respect human rights. It was also the State party to various international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It had the obligation to protect and implement rights and freedoms as enshrined in international human rights treaties. Ms. Pillay recalled that under international law, any official at any level ordering or carrying out atrocities and attacks could be held criminally accountable and widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population could amount to crimes against humanity.
Witnesses in and out of Libya consistently described horrifying scenes. Libyan forces were firing at protesters and bystanders, sealing off neighbourhoods and shooting from rooftops. They also blocked ambulances so that the injured and dead were left on the streets. Reports from hospitals indicated that most of the victims had been shot in the head, chest or neck, suggesting arbitrary and summary executions. Doctors related that they were struggling to cope and running out of blood supplies and medicines to treat the wounded. Images of unverifiable origin appeared to portray the digging of mass graves in Tripoli. According to several accounts, killings had also been carried out by foreign fighters who were, and reportedly continued to be, brought into the country and equipped with small arms and light weapons by the government to suppress the protests.
At the same time, there were reports that authorities had suggested that certain foreign nationals had been primarily responsible for initiating the unrest, thereby encouraging attacks on foreigners. Libyan authorities must allow the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies and humanitarian workers into the country. They must also ensure that the legitimate demands of the protestors were addressed and the fundamental human rights of the population were fully respected and promoted.
Ms. Pillay encouraged all international actors to take the necessary measures to compel the Libyan government to stop the bloodshed. Today’s shocking and brutal situation was the direct outcome of a callous disregard for the rights and freedoms of Libyans that had marked the almost four decade long grip on power by the current ruler. Justice for ongoing as well as past abuses must be attained in order to be meaningful for all victims.
GOMEZ DEL PRADO, Chair of the Working Group on the use of Mercenaries on behalf of all Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the Human Rights Council, said that the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures had condemned the violent suppression of the peaceful protests by the people of Libya who had been calling for dignity, liberty and social justice. The Committee had received numerous reports of excessive and vastly disproportionate use of force against protesters, including the use of live ammunition and military planes. They had also been alerted to serious allegations of torture, ill treatment and arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals, including human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists. As a result, several hundred people had died and many others had been arrested and injured. There had been disturbing accounts of women and children among the victims and that the authorities had enlisted mercenaries from other countries to support the crack down on demonstrators in Benghazi and other cities.
Special procedures had stated that actions taken by the Libyan authorities were illegitimate and unlawful under international law, as the excessive use of force had never been an option and could not be justified in dealing with peaceful demonstrations. The authorities in Libya had committed gross and serious violations of human rights, including arbitrary deprivation of life, torture and enforced disappearances, and had violated their obligations under international human rights treaties to which Libya was a party. The use of foreign armed individuals who may have been involved in the killings was unacceptable.
Mr. del Prado reiterated the call for Libya to immediately cease the excessive use of force, including lethal force against protesters. They urged the authorities to ensure access to immediate medical care to avoid further death. They also urged the authorities to release all those arbitrarily detained and to protect protesters from torture and ill treatment. They called upon the authorities to ensure that people were able to express their legitimate grievances through public and peaceful demonstration without fear of being killed, injured, arrested or subjected to other human rights violations.
If it was proved that the alleged attacks orchestrated by the authorities were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the people of Libya, this would amount to crimes against humanity. Those responsible must be held accountable. The Libyan authorities must realize that inciting violence would only lead to an escalation of the situation and to further violations that may lead to prosecution by international criminal justice mechanisms or through universal jurisdiction. They had endorsed the call made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for an international inquiry into the violence.
The Special Procedures had also called upon the authorities to ensure that journalists were allowed to work safely and freely to inform the public locally and globally of what was happening in Libya and that all means of communication, including the Internet, remain open and accessible to the public.
Special Procedures had emphasized the wider and endemic failures to protect human rights throughout the country. The underlying human rights issues would have to be swiftly addressed, in particular the widespread denial of economic and social rights that had been witnessed over the years. In addition, comprehensive and systematic governance reforms were needed to prevent further human rights violations as the current institutional structures allowed impunity to go unabated.
They did not have the benefit of seeing first hand the situation in the country and had called upon the authorities to swiftly extend invitations to those special procedures mandate holders who wished to conduct country visits, including technical assessment missions.
Statements by Member States
ANDRAS DEKANY, (Hungary on behalf of the European Union), said that the European Union urged Libya to immediately fulfil its obligations under international law and all relevant human rights duties. The European Union was deeply concerned about the fate of citizens in Member States stuck in Libya against their will. In this connection, he urged Libya to fully cooperate in protecting the rights of citizens of third countries, including assisting in a possible evacuation if necessary. The European Union also urged Libyan authorities and the relevant parties to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and facilitate the departure of those among them wishing to leave the country. The Human Rights Council could not remain silent in the face of shocking events such as those taking place in Libya. Members and observers of the Council had the responsibility to act in order to stop human rights violations and take steps to remedy the plights of victims. Membership in the Council carried certain duties and obligations.
Mr. Dekany said they had to act now because the number of victims was growing by the day. The European Union strongly supported the High Commissioner in challenging the international community to act on behalf of victims of human rights violations. The European Union also believed that an independent, impartial and credible international investigation was necessary to shed light on the violations of international law and to bring to justice all perpetrators. In this context, they stressed that those responsible for the brutal aggression and violence against civilians be held accountable. This was also their obligation towards the victims on the ground. They should know that the international community was ready to act decisively for them. The Council must act and act urgently. They had submitted a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Libya and it was their sincere hope that it would enjoy the universal support of this Council.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM, (Iraq on behalf of the Arab Group), said that Iraq had been keeping a careful eye on the development of the situation in Libya and the humanitarian situation. They denounced the crimes against demonstrators and protestors who were operating peacefully and denounced the violent acts against civilians that were unacceptable and could not be justified, in particular the use of mercenaries. The Arab Group called on the Libyan authorities to stop the violence and to hold a national dialogue and respect the right to freedom of expression and the physical integrity of citizens. The Arab Group called upon the government of Libya to abolish restrictions on the media, and ensure that emergency medical assistance was provided to victims. The Arab Group rejected the serious allegations of participation of foreign nationals from other Arab countries and called upon Libya to ensure protection for foreigners who lived there and allow those who wished to leave the country to do so safely. The Arab Group believed that the demand for justice must be respected and invited the Member States and Arab and international civil society to provide humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people at this crucial stage of history.
ZAMIR AKRAM, (Permanent Representative of Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), said that the OIC Member States strongly condemned the excessive use of force against civilians in the Arab Libyan Jamahiriya, resulting in the death and injury of a large number of people. They called on the authorities in Libya to immediately cease violence against innocent people and underscored the need to address their demands peacefully and through dialogue in accordance with the true spirit and injunctions of Islam. The OIC Programme of Action called upon all OIC members to enlarge the scope of political participation, ensure equality, civil liberties and social justice and to promote transparency and accountability, as well as to eliminate corruption in their national spheres. It was therefore incumbent upon the Libyan authorities to respect and uphold these obligations.
The world had been witnessing far reaching developments in a number of OIC countries at present. It was a time of awakening; a time for reckoning. Muslims would no longer be denied their rights. Justice, equality and the rule of law must prevail, not only within Muslim societies, but across the world. Islam placed great emphasis on the rights of human beings. Prophet Mohammad had opened the door to social reforms, and had created an environment of security and safety where people were able to enjoy basic rights and freedoms. The Muslim awakening had emphatically stated that the Islamic world would no longer accept double standards and hypocrisy in the international sphere. The OIC Member States expected that the Libyan authorities would heed the voice of the international community and resort to peaceful means to respond to the ongoing catastrophe.
OSITADINMA ANAEDU, (Nigeria on behalf of the African Group), wanted to make clear that the African Group was no less concerned about the situation in Libya than in any other country or region. In fact, a number of African leaders individually and collectively were the first to reach out to the Libyan leader with a view to staving off escalation of the crisis before any similar effort from outside of the continent. The African Group saw the need for the Libyan authorities and the good people of Libya to never relent in their efforts to avoid any further loss of life or escalation of the situation. The African Group was upset by the media’s portrayal of Africans in Libya as mercenaries and they were convinced that in difficult times like these, open dialogue and consultation remained the only panacea for Libya to find the much needed solutions to the challenges it faced and ultimately meet the aspirations of the Libyan people for the entrenchment of enduring democracy, justice and socioeconomic development. The African Group eagerly anticipated that the Libyan authorities would heed the call of the international community to deploy peaceful and non-violent means of reacting to the current crisis. The international community must also unite in helping Libya surmount its challenges. Member States of the United Nations should desist from capitalizing on this unfortunate situation. The common humanity that bound them together should inform their utterances and decisions in this matter.
ABDULLA FALAH ABDULLA AL-DOSARI, (Qatar), said the country was watching the events in Libya with concern and it condemned the use of aerial bombardment and disproportionate violence against the people. Qatar supported their Libyan brothers and called upon Libya to put an end to the human rights violations and killings and to protect civilians. Qatar recalled that the primary responsibility was to guarantee the rights to life and security. Concerning the voice of the international level, Qatar called upon the Libyan authority to ensure stability of the country thus putting an end to any use of weapons. Furthermore, Qatar said that Libya must guarantee protection for civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and called on the Libyan authority to abide by international humanitarian law and ensure humanitarian aid to the wounded. Qatar said that the freedom of the press must be respected and those responsible for attacking civilians must be brought to justice. Qatar called upon States to act immediately to protect the Libyan people and to send an independent international commission of inquiry to monitor the situation in the country.
JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI, (France), said that the civilian population was being repressed in a planned, systematic and brutal way by the authorities and that the extreme nature of the situation on the ground and the evident violations of human rights must be dealt with by the members of the Council which was evidenced by the calling of this special session. The international community could not remain indifferent to these massive violations of human rights and must mobilize action. France hoped that the Security Council, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference would together reject the violence as intolerable. The Council must denounce with firmness the violations of human rights and the grave situation of violence which, conforming to its mandate, resolution 60/251 of the United Nations, must make appropriate recommendations. France demanded an immediate stop to the violence in Libya and called upon the authorities to engage in political dialogue to stop the tragedy that had been unfolding before their eyes. France supported the sending of an international inquiry to Libya to investigate human rights violations and encouraged the Council to adopt, with as much support as possible, a resolution to condemn the violence and to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council.
ANDRZEJ SADOS, (Poland), said that Poland deplored the use of violence and the death of a high number of civilians and joined appeals for an immediate end to the use of force against protesters. Poland further stressed that the freedom of expression and the right to assemble peacefully were human rights and fundamental freedoms of every human being which must be respected and protected. They called on the Libyan authorities to take adequate measures to observe and protect the human rights and freedoms as well as the safety of civilians. The Libyan state must reassume its responsibility to protect its people and citizens of third countries and uphold the highest standards of international law that were earlier accepted by it voluntarily, as upholding the highest possible standards of human rights was the particular responsibility of the Council’s members. Poland supported the justified and rightful aspirations and demands of the Libyan people calling for reform and Poland called on the Human Rights Council to fulfil its duties and obligations and act urgently.
PETER GOODERHAM, (United Kingdom), said the United Kingdom wanted to send a clear message to the Libyan regime that the world was not just watching and making statements. They were and would continue to take action. As others had noted, the United Nations Human Rights Council had the specific mandate to react to urgent and chronic situations. The United Kingdom applauded the Council for meeting today in a special session and they called on the Council to continue its engagement, taking the necessary steps to ensure that those responsible for the awful human rights violations that were currently occurring in Libya were held to account.
The Libyan government was trying to stop the world from seeing what was happening in Libya. They were appalled by the levels of violence unleashed by the Libyan government. The use of military force against civilians and the attacks on funeral processions had caused deep anger throughout the country and around the world. The United Kingdom was also deeply disturbed by reports of Libyan planes being ordered to bomb their own people and by Qadafi’s public threats of violence in order to hold on to power. It was clear that the regime was shamefully failing in its responsibility to protect its citizens from third States, from the very forces that should be upholding their human rights. They had to ask themselves a serious question: should a State that had such a blatant disregard for the right to life be allowed to sit on the Human Rights Council? The General Assembly could suspend the rights of a Member of the Council that committed gross and systematic violations of human rights.
JUAN JOSE GOMEZ CAMACHO, (Mexico), said that Mexico condemned the violence in which peaceful demonstrators had been repressed in Libya and the civilian population attacked by the army. Mexico said it was urgent for the country concerned to take action and that the Libyan government was obliged to protect the population in its territory. Mexico said that there was no justification for the military authority to use arms to restrict the freedom of expression. Mexico said that the Libyan authorities were obliged to use democratic channels and that they had to express their firm condemnation of the situation. Mexico expressed sorrow for the situation and said that it would provide support for the establishment of a committee of inquiry. There was a failure to respect the most basic norms and that was doubly worrying given the seriousness of the situation.
MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO, (Brazil), said that respect for freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, were values this Council could not turn a blind eye to. Brazil would not tolerate any form of human rights violations in any country, including their own. The use of force against peaceful demonstrators was absolutely unacceptable. There were Brazilian nationals working in Libya whose safety was of grave concern to them. Brazil urged Libyan authorities to ensure the security and the free circulation of foreigners and to facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country. No government could be sustained through force or violence and by punishing dissent. No leadership would last amidst social exclusion, unemployment and poverty. No people would endure in silence the violation of their fundamental rights and the contempt for their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity. Peace and development, as well as human rights and development, went hand in hand. This was the message they took from the sweeping crises they were presently witnessing.
IRUTHISHAM ADAM, (Maldives), said that the right not to be tortured and the right to free speech and to exercise the right of assembly were all universal values and not just values of the Western World. Extrajudicial killings, the use of paramilitary forces and illegal detention and torture, if proven, would result in crimes against humanity. The Maldives called on Libyan authorities to cease human rights violations and to immediately investigate the violations. Furthermore, the Maldives said there must be comprehensive human rights reforms in Libya and that the current leadership should step down. The Libyan authorities had a responsibility to protect their people and if the government did not do this then the Security Council must take immediate actions to protect the people of Libya. The Maldives welcomed this week’s statement by the Security Council, but believed that there should also be an investigation. They also supported the immediate suspension of Libya from the Human Rights Council.
BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN, (Norway), condemned the Libyan authorities and the use of violence and military force against peaceful protests and the exercise of freedom of assembly. Norway called for an immediate end to the violence and said that steps must be taken to access the provisions of the humanitarian assistance needed. Norway said that journalists were not allowed to enter the country and that the civilian population was subjected to systematic violations and supported the investigation of the violence in the country. Norway said that protests were calling for greater freedoms that were a prerequisite for democratic development and it believed that freedom of expression and assembly were a precondition for development and prosperity. Norway said that they were seeing, in an increasingly globalised world, a democratic deficit and that in the resolution establishing human rights there was a requirement that Member States must uphold human rights and pointed out that what happened in Libya was in clear contrast with this.
LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE, (Uruguay), said that Uruguay supported the convening of this special session in light of the indiscriminate attacks against civilians in clear violation of international human rights and human rights law. This should strike the conscience of the international community. The international community and the Council must monitor the situation in Libya in order to sanction those responsible and prevent this from continuing. They also needed to support the Libyan people as they chose their destiny and worked toward the consolidation of the rule of law. To this end, Uruguay would co-sponsor a resolution submitted today to the Human Rights Council.
PEDRO OYARCE, (Chile), said that the Human Rights Council must address promptly the human rights violations in Libya. Chile deplored and condemned the serious government repression against citizens expressing their right to demonstrate. The Human Rights Council must call on the Libyan authorities to uphold humanitarian law. Chile had made an urgent appeal to stop all forms of violence. The Libyan people needed to be allowed to express themselves free of violence. Chile called for an international investigation for full accountability. The president of the state must protect its citizens, and the Human Rights Council must ensure with all the means at its disposal, diplomatic and multilateral, to insist that the Libyan government respected its obligation to protect its people. The Human Rights Council must act and give hope to the Libyan people.
ALBERTO J. DUMONT, (Argentina), said Argentina had co-sponsored the convening of a special session on Libyan as well as the draft resolution that would be adopted today. Argentina explained that this was because its country condemned the situation in Libya. Argentina called upon the concerned country to respect human rights and saw an increased deterioration of the situation and said that it was in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Argentina said that freedom of assembly needed to be upheld and protected and that was a cornerstone of democracy. Argentina said that it was deeply concerned that there was a shortage of medical supplies and called on the country to ensure that medical staff could enter the country. Argentina said that the violence could not remain unpunished and supported the establishment of a commission of inquiry.
JAVIER GARRIGUES, (Spain), said that they were profoundly concerned about the situation in Libya and the violence that had been seen in that country. The violence was the result of the use of live ammunition and artillery used against peaceful demonstrators exercising their right of peaceful assembly and expression. They had seen a total scorn for fundamental rights and freedoms and the absence of mass media in the country was adding even more uncertainty to the situation and increasing harm against these citizens. Spain called on Libya to lift all restrictions on access to the country and called on them to facilitate the departure of all foreigners who wished to leave the country and guarantee the safety and security of those who remained. Spain supported the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy; this should not be interpreted as a desire to meddle in the affairs of Libya. Authorities were repressing their own people with unjustified violence and in violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms. They supported the adoption of measures against Libyan leaders who were responsible for this repression. There should be no impunity for those responsible for these events. The Human Rights Council was especially responsible for the protection and promotion these rights. Spain called on the suspension of Libya’s membership in the Council.
KENICHI SUGANUMA, (Japan), said that Japan was gravely concerned by the widespread violence and had strongly condemned the use of force by the Libyan government against its own people. Japan urged the Libyan authorities to immediately stop the violence and expressed deep regret that Libya, as a member of the Human Rights Council, had allowed the violence in the country to continue. Japan demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice and strongly urged Libya, once stability was restored, to move forward with political reform in accordance with all of the international treaties on human rights that Libya had signed.
OTHMAN HASHIM, (Malaysia), said that Malaysia joined earlier speakers in expressing condolence and sympathy to those who died or lost family members. Malaysia called upon the Libyan authorities to exercise restraint from the use of force and wished to underscore the importance of the rights to freedom and peaceful assembly and association. Malaysia looked forward to the full restoration of the rule of law in Libya and for the establishment of accountability for those who perpetrated violations and hoped that justice was restored. Malaysia joined the call for Libya to consider cooperation with the international community by facilitating access to humanitarian assistance and UN personnel. Malaysia called for other countries to send a message of solidarity to Libya.
ARCANJO MARIA DO NASCIMENTO, (Angola), said that Angola deplored the violence in Libya and called for its immediate end. Allegations pointed to a significant number of dead and displaced persons. It was necessary for the international community to grant assistance and support to this sister nation and the situation there was due in part to the impact of the international economic crisis that was creating problems everywhere. Angola called for external actors to refrain from contributing further to the instability of the country and urged all parties in Libya to engage in a constructive dialogue to come to consensus on a peaceful solution acceptable to all. They must avoid Libya becoming engulfed in a civil war by addressing root causes; this was fundamental to addressing the instability in the country.
HUGO BRAUWERS, (Belgium), voiced Belgium’s support for the Libyan people and condemned the violent actions and appealed to Libya to refrain from the use of force. Belgium underlined its support for the peaceful demand for democratic and socio economic changes and for freedom of expression and the press. Belgium was one of the first countries to demand the Council convene this special session and it was pleased with the response. The Council must respond to the situation in Libya and they welcomed the condemnation of the use of force by the Security Council. Libya had an obligation to protect its citizen. When Libya applied to become a member of the Council it had agreed to accept all the conditions of the treaties that it had singed and Belgium noted now that the regime was in violation of all the treaties it had signed, including the international covenants on civil and political rights. Libya’s membership in the Council meant it had special obligations. Belgium supported the adoption of the firm and clear resolution against Libya and reminded the Council to use all of the tools at its disposal to stop the violence against the people.
SHEHAB MADI, (Jordan), expressed Jordan’s deepest sympathy and regret for the loss of life and extended its sincere condolences to the families of the victims. Jordan strongly condemned the targeting and killing of civilians and called for an immediate end to all acts of violence and attacks against them. Jordan also called on the Libyan authorities to ensure their safety and well being. Jordan said that the unprecedented actions against civilians and peaceful demonstrators, including unlawful and indiscriminate killings, constituted grave breaches of international law, particularly human rights law. Jordan called on the Libyan authorities to resort to wisdom and reason in order to preserve and safeguard the lives, safety and dignity of the Libyan people. In addition, Jordan said that accountability must be upheld to ensure that all perpetrators of human rights violations did not evade justice.
Jordan said that one lesson learnt from the events in Libya was that silence on human rights violations wherever they occurred would lead to the tragic events the international community was witnessing.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ, (Cuba), said Cuba was monitoring the events in Libya and their international repercussions. They were seeing contradictory and fragmented news coming out of the country and some North American politicians and press were using this to incite violence, military aggression and intervention. Cuba wanted the Libyan people to find a sovereign and permanent solution which guaranteed integrity of the country without any form of foreign intervention. The situation was confused with fragmented information coming out of Libya and Cuba detected attempts by some governments to use this information to incite greater instability which could lead to more loss of life. Libya was now embroiled in a civil war that would have global economic and political repercussions. Everyone was concerned about the loss of human life and harm to the civilian population. Cuba rejected the death of innocent civilians wherever it happened. But Cuba could also not accept the risk of some governments using this situation opportunistically to justify any manoeuvre to send in a humanitarian military intervention. Cuba was also against any move to expel Libya from the Council and felt that some countries wanted to use the clause selectively.
VALERY LOSHCHININ, (Russian Federation), said that the Russian Federation had supported the declaration of the Council of the League of Arab states and the press release of the United National Security Council against the use of violence in Libya. In a joint Russian-European Union communiqué they had decisively condemned the use of force against the civilian population. They were convinced that force could not be a method for resolving societal problems. The current standoff must be moved to the political field to avoid an outbreak of greater violence, schism and even civil war. The mass protests by the civilian population had revealed that the problems that had accumulated were societal problems that must be resolved through national dialogue to achieve social harmony and that the process of democratization must occur in a peaceful process under the rule of law. The Council’s proposal for suspending the membership of Libya concerned the Russian Federation and they did not want this to become a precedent in the Council.
SANG-KI PARK, (Republic of Korea), said that the main mandate of the Human Rights Council was to respond promptly to human rights violations and the Republic of Korea believed that this session was an occasion to deliver a clear message to Libya. The Republic of Korea was worried by the human rights violations in Libya and the use of violence against protesters. The Republic of Korea expressed their sincere condolences to the families of the victims and called for Libya to show restraint from further violations. The Republic of Korea said that the value the right to freedom must be upheld and they stood ready to participate with the international community to achieve these goals and hoped that the basic human rights of Libyan civilians would be fully preserved.
FEDOR ROSOHA, (Slovakia), said that Members of the Human Rights Council should stand as examples of the highest human rights standards, otherwise the General Assembly had the right to suspend their membership for committing gross human rights violations. Slovakia urged the government of Libya to cease the use of force and respect human rights, encompassing all civil and political rights. The Libyan authorities must ensure a ban on arbitrary detentions and arrests and it was crucial that appropriate medical care was made available and access to human rights organizations and humanitarian aid was enabled. Security of all persons on Libyan territory should be guaranteed, including human rights defenders, humanitarian workers and journalists. Information at their disposal left no doubt that crimes were being committed on a massive scale in Libya. An informed assessment of the situation was needed to provide political and humanitarian aid and this required the presence of independent, free, international media and news agencies and their access to all parts of the country. Slovakia also joined the strong call for an independent international investigation into events so that the fulfilment of the legitimate demands of the Libyan population was accompanied by justice and the reestablishment of law and order.
ABDULWAHAB ABDULSALAM ATTAR, (Saudi Arabia), said that Saudi Arabia had expressed its deepest regret for the current situation in Libya, particularly the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians and the use of arms against unarmed civilians. As everyone knew, the killing of innocents was against all laws and whoever killed a civilian without reason killed a whole nation. Saudi Arabia hoped that the Libyan authorities would cease all violence and protect its people; in this way the territorial integrity of Libya would be preserved. Saudi Arabia also hoped that the procedures taken by the Council would be in the interest of the Libyan people and they asked the Libyan authorities to use reason rather than violence to protect their people.
EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE, (United States of America), said the United States supported the convening of this special session to address the crisis in Libya and that the government of Libya had a responsibility to protect its population. The Human Rights Council had a responsibility to take action in response to ongoing emergency situations like the one in Libya in which a government continued to commit gross and systematic human rights violations. The Council’s responsibility was even greater when the violator was one of its own members. By convening this session on an urgent basis this week, the international community was sending a strong, unified and clear message that the Libyan government’s violations of human rights were clearly contrary to international norms and must end. Over the past several days, the United States watched with alarm as demonstrators had been met with repression and lethal violence from their government, including threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. Reports indicated that the death toll was several hundred at least. The United States said that this bloodshed was completely unacceptable and the violence was deplorable.
WANG QUN, (China), said China was deeply concerned by the continuing turmoil in Libya and it was their hope that stability and order would soon be restored. China urged the Libyan authorities to ensure the safety and legitimate rights of foreign nationals in Libya. China was also concerned by the implications of the calls to suspend Libya’s membership to the Human Rights Council. China believed that the suspension of membership needed to be further discussed to reach a consensus. Any action taken to suspend the membership at this Special Session should not constitute a precedent of the Council. The problems caused by the situation in Libya should be settled by a political program of national dialogue in that country. China hoped that this Special Session would facilitate Libya’s endeavours in achieving their objectives.
DANTE MARTINELLI, (Switzerland), expressed Italy’s condolences to the families of all the victims. In light of Switzerland’s own experiences with the Libyan authorities they understood how brave these young women and men must be to go into the streets to demand their human rights. Switzerland condemned extrajudicial executions of demonstrators and called for the immediate respect of all human rights, including the right to life, protection from torture, freedom of expression and assembly. Human rights violations must immediately be stopped and rapid assistance must be provided to the wounded. The Libyan authorities must cooperate with national and international humanitarian workers, providing immediate access to the country. Switzerland called for the immediate investigation of human rights violations by an international, independent and impartial body and that the people responsible for these violations be brought to justice. Switzerland said that it was indispensible for a process of dialogue to be implemented between the different groups. Finally, due to the flagrant violations of human rights by the Libyan authorities, Switzerland supported the suspension of Libya from the Human Rights Council.
MD. ABDUL HANNAN, (Bangladesh), said that Bangladesh had been closely following the events in Libya and it was deeply concerned at the onset of violence and human rights violations. Bangladesh hoped all concerned would exercise restraint and it believed that a peaceful resolution to the issues of concern would soon be found in which the human rights of all individuals would be promoted and protected. Bangladesh was also concerned about the safety of all expatriates living in Libya and called upon the government to provide safety and security for everyone in Libyan territory, which included 60,000 Bangladeshis living in Libya.
CARLOS RAMIRO MARTINEZ ALVARADO, (Guatemala), said that Guatemala, along with other countries requested this Special Session to assist the rights of citizens in Libya. They called on Libyan authorities to refrain from using excessive force and to honour their obligations to protect their citizens, including girls, boys, and women. Guatemala was committed to the protection and promotion of human rights both nationally and internationally and the delegation supported the creation of a committee of inquiry.
FODE SECK, (Senegal), said that Senegal supported the statements made by Nigeria and Pakistan. They held dear the protection of human rights everywhere and at all times. The daily information from Libya did not allow them to stand aside in the face of these grave human rights violations. Senegal had from the very outset condemned the attacks carried out against the Libyan people who asked for more freedom and rights to build their country. Senegal extended its condolences to their brothers in Libya and wished for their speedy recovery. They supported the proposal made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights that an independent fact finding mission be sent to the country to determine responsibility for the human rights violations occurring in Libya. The Human Rights Council would then be able to fully play its part in Africa and to take the appropriate steps to put an end to the disaster occurring in Libya.
EKSIRI PINTARUCHI, (Thailand), expressed condolences for the people of Libya for the tremendous losses due to the recent situation. Thailand thanked the High Commissioner for her report and said that one of the responsibilities of the Human Rights Council was to react promptly to a situation that required its urgent attention. Thailand underscored not only the solidarity among them in terms of their grave concern, but also the unity of the Council and the international community to act, to act now, and to act in a constructive manner. Thailand shared the concern of the international community regarding the paramount principle of the responsibility to protect. Thailand said that it was incumbent upon the Libyan authorities to immediately refrain from use of force against civilians and stressed the importance of the responsibility to maintain the rule of law. The delegation also called on Libya to immediately address humanitarian needs by working with international organizations and the international community.
Statements by Observer States
CARLOS ROBELO RAFFONE, (Nicaragua), called on a peaceful and sovereign solution to the Libyan program and blamed western mass media for whipping up violence so that western imperialism could assert its domain. This was done by predatory countries that used these opportunities to move into injured countries and bleed them dry. Countries that used to welcome the Libyan leader and do business with him have now turned their back on him.
GERARD CORR, (Ireland), said that Ireland strongly recommended this special session and had recognized that there was a clear need to condemn the use of excessive force against civilians in Libya. The people of Ireland had stood by the people in Libya and supported the call for an independent international investigation into human rights violations in Libya. Those who ordered these attacks and those who carried them out should be aware that they would be held accountable. The popular dissent in Libya could only be resolved with inclusive and meaningful national dialogue aimed at meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people. The Libyan government had an obligation to protect not only their own citizens, but also those of other nationalities. Libya must allow international human rights monitors and humanitarian aid agencies into the country so that the wounded and those feeling violence could be helped. Ireland called upon Libya to immediately stop blocking the internet and mobile phone networks and to lift all restrictions on the media. Ireland was also considering with its European Union partners what effective and urgent measures could be taken in relation to Libya.
BOUDEWIJN VAN EENENNAAM, (Netherlands), said that the international community had a duty to speak out and condemn a government that preferred extrajudicial killings over dialogue. The Netherlands also said that the international community had a duty to show the world that they stood united in their condemnation of such gross human rights violations and in their commitment to uphold and respect human rights. The Netherlands asked the Libyan authorities to do the same because Libya had the duty to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights like any other government. The Netherlands supported the Council resolution before them and called for the urgent dispatch of an international commission of inquiry. The Netherlands looked forward to the report of the commission of inquiry at the Council’s 17th session. Under the current circumstances, the Netherlands recommended the General Assembly consider the suspension of Libya’s membership from the Council.
IDRISS JAZAIRY, (Algeria), said that Algeria was keeping a very close eye on the situation in Libya and they were gravely concerned by the events taking place in Libya, a brother country. They also extended their condolences to the families of the victims, some of whom were of Algerian nationality. Algeria urged Libyan authorities to show restraint, respect human rights and stop the bloodshed of their own people. They echoed the voices which called for the cessation of excessive use of force, a flagrant violation of human rights which could only worsen the suffering of the Libyan people. Dialogue must given priority in response to the aspirations of the Libyan people. There must be protection for foreign nationals, ensuring they could leave the country safely. Algeria called on the Council to help people avoid bloodshed in Libya and there should be no exploitation of the situation.
REINHARD SCHWEPPE, (Germany), said that Germany had been deeply shocked by the pictures form Libya and the high numbers of deaths and they were especially shocked that the Libyan government used live ammunition and heavy weaponry against its own citizens. Germany called on the government to immediately end the use of violence, to free all political prisoners and to end the blockade of all forms of the media. The international community had to show that it was able to react to such a brutal repression of Human Rights. Germany joined those calling for an independent and credible investigation into the massive violations of human rights and to bring all perpetrators to justice. The Council could not remain silent and although Germany was not a member of the council, it was pleased that this special session was taking place and urged the members of the council to give unanimous testimony of their condemnation of the brutal use of force in Libya and to broadly support the resolution.
LAURA MIRACHIAN, (Italy), said that Italy was concerned about the situation in Libya which was turning into a humanitarian catastrophe and extended their condolences to the families of the victims. Italy urged the Libyan authorities to protect its population and to facilitate those people who wished to leave the country. Italy underscored that there should be a distinction between Libyan leadership from one side and the country and its people from the other. Italy urged the Libyan authorities to give immediate access to humanitarian and human rights organizations and to accept independent inquiries and their findings. Italy said that Libya should provide the Libyan population with assistance and guarantee the sustainable stability for the country. Italy called on the international community to assist the Libyan population in building a democratic State.
GEROLD VOLLMER, (Austria), said Austria was fully aligned with the statement by Hungary on behalf of the European Union. Austria strongly condemned the blatant and appalling human rights violations and called on Libyan authorities and the groups under its control to cease hostilities. Austria urged Libya to comply with its international human rights obligations and take all measures to respect and protect the civilian population and meet its needs. Free media were the basis of any democratic state and the protection of journalists was of the utmost importance and Austria therefore called on Libya to protect the press. The Human Rights Council had to send a clear message and Austria endorsed the draft resolution before them. Austria endorsed the call for the General Assembly to consider Libya’s suspension from the Council.
TALAL ALMUTAIRI, (Kuwait), said that Kuwait had kept a concerned and sad eye on the development of the tragic events in Libya, especially the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians. Their country had issued a statement that denounced the use of force against civilians. Kuwait had hoped to see a statement from Libya on the need for reform and was disappointed that this did not happen. Kuwait had called on the Libyan authorities to immediately end the violence and bloodshed and to start a dialogue with the people. Kuwait had sent humanitarian aid and emergency medical equipment to their Libyan brothers to help them and it urged the international community to act to immediately end the violence against the Libyan people.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM, (Iraq), condemned the measures adopted by the Libyan authorities threatening and intimidating its citizens; violence that in no way could be justified, particularly when it came through the use of mercenaries. Iraq said that there was also a violation of international humanitarian law and called for the European States to give support to the Libyan people and guarantee the right to self-determination. Iraq said that despite all the humanitarian appeal to put an end to the violence, the credibility of the Human Rights Council would be undermined. Therefore, Iraq said that the Council must speak with one strong voice and urged the support of the right to peaceful demonstration. Iraq called for the Council to give a strong response and for the adoption of a strong resolution in order to avoid the events which happened in Iraq in 1991 when Saddam Hussein attacked his own people.
GOPINATHAN ACHAMKULANGARE, (India), said that India remained deeply concerned at the violence in Libya which had led to serious loss of life and large displacement of the population. India deplored the use of force which was totally unacceptable. India earnestly hoped that calm was restored at the earliest without further violence and they urged the Libyan government to lift restrictions on the media so as to enable an accurate assessment of the situation. They also called on Libya to permit safe passage of humanitarian assistance into the country and they were concerned about the safety of foreign nationals in the country. The credibility of the Council would be enhanced when it was seen as dealing with similar situations in a similar manner, not sacrificing human rights at the altar of political expediency and strategic opportunism. While India was encouraged by the action taken by the international community on this issue, it wanted to highlight the need to maintain the territorial integrity and unity of the country.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI, (Indonesia), said that Indonesia shared the dismay of the international community at the manner in which the legitimate aspirations of the people of Libya had been greeted by the Libyan authorities. They were deeply shocked by the large number of deaths and casualties which had occurred in Triopli and Benghazi as a result of the action of the security forces. They also shared their concern with many of the governments whose citizens were still in the country and they called on the authorities to take urgent matters to protect and facilitate the departure of foreign nationals wishing to leave the country. Indonesia would like to join the international community in urging authorities to respect the voice of the people to refrain from excessive use of force against innocent civilians to prevent further bloodshed. The brute use of force which caused many deaths as well as arbitrary arrest and detention against ordinary Libyans constituted a gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Indonesia recommended that Libya instigate a responsible dialogue with the people and its representatives with a view to implementing the necessary reforms. The Libyan authorities could then avert a worsening situation and turn the present events into an opportunity for democracy, progress and a prosperous future for the country.
ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ, (Honduras), said Honduras co-sponsored the convening of the Special Session of the Human Rights Council and deplored the violence in Libya and strongly condemned it. Honduras recognized the urgency of the appeal to ensure that the response of the international community was timely and vigorous. Honduras said that Non-governmental organizations on several occasions had been witness to serious violations and immediate actions had to be taken. In addition, Honduras said that it was important for the Human Rights Council to eliminate political considerations when taking decisions. Honduras said that Libya was a case without precedent as it was the first time a Member State of the Human Rights Council was subjected to special consideration. Libya’s status as a Member State must not be an obstacle for making decisions.
PETER WOOLCOTT, (Australia), urged Libya to take immediate action to protect the rights of its people. What they were witnessing was a reminder of the universality of the yearning for freedom and the impossibility of suppressing the voices of the people. Immediate action was required and the Council could seize this moment to stand by the Libyan people and take action against a Member. Australia urged the adoption of a strong and action orientated resolution. Australia supported a move by the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s membership from the Council and would support such a move at a meeting on 1 March in New York. Australia also urged the Security Council to take action.
YAPRAK ALP, (Turkey), said that the recent developments in Libya had brought about a humanitarian plight which needed to be addressed urgently. The excessive and aggressive use of force and violence against civilians had claimed the lives of hundreds of Libyans which could not be justified. Turkey had joined the international community in strongly condemning the repression of peaceful demonstrators and it deplored the violence and deaths of civilians in Libya. Turkey called upon the international community to initiate a national dialogue process in order to bring about a collective approach, which was essential in preventing Libya from falling into further chaos. It was vital that the government of Libya meet its international obligation to respect human rights and humanitarian law. The restrictions imposed on the media and the blocking of telecommunications must be lifted immediately while the life and property of foreign nationals must be respected and their departure from the country facilitated.
FERNANDO ROJAS SAMANEZ, (Peru), restated the condemnation of the repression against demonstrators who were expressing their grievances and deplored the loss of lives and the use of violence. Peru called on the Libyan authorities to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms in line with international humanitarian law. Given the serious events, the Peruvian government asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations to intervene and support the appeal made by the High Commissioner of Human Rights to investigate in an independent manner the acts of violence and the grave violations of human rights and establish the responsibilities of the case. Peru decided to suspend diplomatic relations with Libya pending the cessation of the violence against the Libyan population. Peru co-sponsored the convening of this Special Session and the draft resolution submitted.
For use of information media; not an official record